Shut up. Tolls are AWESOME.

After a week of tolling 520, the bellyaching just won’t stop from people whining about having to pay to cross.

I, on the other hand, LOVE it. (And not just because I come from a state where there are TEN turnpikes.) Let me count the ways:

  1. The days of 90 minute HELL COMMUTES are essentially over. If there’s zero traffic whatsoever, it should take me under 20 minutes to go door-to-door home-work. On a good day, it took 40. On a bad day… I was wasting an hour of my life staring at the SUV in front of me with the “Send Obama Back To Kenya” bumper sticker plastered indelicately next to their “GOOGLE RON PAUL ’08” slogan. My travels this week, though, have been, well, magical. Would I pay $7 to drive the speed limit for 2/3rd of my commute? You bet I would.
  2. It’s forcing people to actually question whether they need to drive to work. All week there’s been whining about how full the Seattle-Bellevue buses have been. But that’s a good thing. More bus usage means more fares, and more fares means demand for more Sound Transit and Metro service across the lake. And imagine how much easier it’d be if we just had light rail to Bellevue and Redmond.
  3. In a state with a libertarian streak, tolls force the libertarians to confront an actual libertarian policy. Now, mind you, we’re not ceding the bridge to a private company to run and maintain like a good GOOGLE RON PAUL supporter would demand, but tolls are the sort of things libertarians love–use fees. We’re charging people to use the bridge instead of just apportioning the money for the replacement bridge of our dwindling state coffers. Of course, were you to believe the mouthbreathers commenting on the Seattle Times, this is a Grave Injustice that Must Be Stopped. And yet these are the same people who refuse to raise taxes to pay for it, demanding that people who use the bridge pay for it themselves. And then when it turns out that they’re the ones who have to pay for it, well, heads a-splode.
  4. It seems to be clearing up I-5 traffic, too. No, seriously.

Now, none of this will last. Eventually the shunpikers will break down and start taking 520, people will grow weary of the bus, and the traffic will rise again on 520. But at least for this winter and spring, there’s never been a better time to commute from Seattle to the Eastside if you have the coin (or a company-subsidized bus pass). It’s turned one of the biggest reasons NOT to work across the lake into, well, a lot less suckier a commute.

3 thoughts on “Shut up. Tolls are AWESOME.

  1. Have you seen how much real money gets apportioned to WA DOT? We have the highest gas tax in the country, plus bridge tolls, various license fees, and they still can’t afford to build anything without more tolls? I am absolutley certain that the Democrats in WA will draft bills to add tolls I-90 and 405. All this does is shrink revenue streams already hitting the cities and taxpayers involved. All they are doing is shifting the chairs on a titanic mess.

  2. Sheesh Buzzsaw, I want whatever you’re smoking.

    Construction costs have been rising at about 7% a year, meaning the most recent gas tax hike didn’t come anywhere near restoring the inflation-adjusted buying power it had in the 1980’s. Oh, the loss of the MVET didn’t help either.

    Finally, the real cost of driving is estimated between $0.15/mile (by those commie, car-haters at the Federal Highway Administration) and $1 per mile (by Mark Delucchi at UC Davis). Know how much the state collects per mile? 3-cents. You know what it’s called when there’s a gap between what something costs and what someone pays for it? Pretty simple – a subsidy.

  3. Another factor for buses. Yes, full buses are slower when boarding and unloading, but they can fly over the bridge now. And remember, any time you double the speed of a bus, you can double its capacity and its frequency and potentially double its farebox recovery. All for free.

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